"Bloody human scum" the sergeant screamed, vomit dripping from his chin as he pushed Cass off him and threw her to the floor "Kill them all" he ordered his men "Every last one of them!"

Even as he said this, Lola hurried forward to Cassandra's side to help, as she struggled on the floor, trying to get back up again.

"C'mon Sister” she hissed “Move"

"Wha'see...?" Cass mumbled vaguely, as Lola tried in vain to lift her

“Help me” Lola shot a reproachful glare over her shoulder at her leather clad date, who fearfully shook his head and backed away.

One of the troopers charged his weapon and coolly took aim at them.

"Now wait just a minute" Tara snapped "Nobody, but nobody, dies in my medical centre unless a doctor kills them!"

Stooping, she sized a bedpan from beneath one of the beds and hurled it across the room at the troopers, hoping to distract them as Miranda, one of her staff, stupidly hurried forward to help Lola.

Assuming they survived this, Tara reflected, angrily, she was going to have to have a word with her about that sort of thing.

A single shot rang out and the bedpan was blasted out of the air, mid-flight, its molten remains spattering across the floor.

"Ah" Tara nodded sagely in the silence that followed and began slowly backing away as the troopers trained their guns on the humans.

"Kill them!" the sergeant bellowed, hysterically "Kill th-ArrRghHh!"

Startled by his the blood-curdling scream, several of his squad turned to regard him.


To their horror, the skin on his face and neck where Cass had been sick on him, was blistering and smoking furiously. Shrieking in agony, he scrabbled wildly at his face, trying in vain to claw the acidic alien vomit off him.

"Sarge!?" several of the troopers hurried to help him, while the others simply gazed on in abject horror "Sarge!? Oh, Gods - Sarge!?"

“Move” Tara hissed in a low voice, motioning everyone towards the door “Now”

"C'mon Sister. Up" Lola and Miranda hauled Cass upright between them and began stumbling towards the exit as fast as they were able.

“Stay with us Sarge! Oh, Gods in Heaven, stay with us!”

Crowding around their stricken leader, the troopers caught him as he collapsed and lowered him gently to the floor, his anguished screams, slowly diminishing into low, bubbling moans.

“Oh, shit - What are we going to do, man!?”

“You!” one of the soldiers recovered himself sufficiently to realise that the humans were trying to escape “What are you…? You… You monsters!”

“Wait!” Miranda yelled “No!”

Lola screamed as the trooper opened fire, cutting down her erstwhile date, as he hurried ahead of everyone else towards the exit.

“You fucking scum” the trooper snarled as he turned his weapon towards the others “You deserve this”

“No, Grumschluck!” one of the other soldiers suddenly rose from beside the dying sergeant “Don't do it!”

“You've seen what they do!” Grumschluck bellowed “These animals deserve to die”

“Yes, but let's take our time” his compatriot said, smoothly “They need to suffer first”

“You can fuck right off” Tara snapped “It's not our fault your physiology's incompatible with gastric acid”

Holly shimmered onto the monitors medlab and across the rest of the ship “Alright dudes. The engines are about to go critical. Initiating protocol one one seven. Reactor power down in three, two, one...”

The monitors winked off along with almost everything else on the ship as an array of safety mechanisms kicked in on the main reactor, to buy those hopefully working in engineering a few more minutes to avert the crisis.

“Everybody down!” someone yelled in the sudden darkness.

Shots rang out; screams accompanying the blistering blazes of light that momentarily illuminated the medibay in stark blue-white relief.

When the emergency lighting flickered on a few seconds later, it revealed the bodies of the troopers; each as dead as their sergeant, their blood viscously oozing into a wide green pool on the floor.

“Everybody alright?” Jay asked, stepping into the room ahead of the rest of the security detail - each of whom were looking pleased with themselves at a job well done by their new recruit . He glanced down at the scorched, leather clad, corpse on the floor and stooped to try and find a pulse “Dead” he said grimly, as he straightened.

“Jay” Cass beamed, struggling to rise from the floor between Lola and Miranda “I'm so happy to see you. I – Oops” she overbalanced and fell into Miranda, her fingers scrabbling for purchase on the doctors labcoat.

“Take it easy” Miranda steadied her “We'll get you seen to in a moment”

“Cass?” Jay's voice betrayed some of his concern “What's going on?”

“Drugged up on too much punch” Tara said brusquely from the other side of the room “We get this every new year”

“Drugged?” Jay asked, but stopped himself in time. Things were different here. He shouldn't ask stupid questions.

With standing proving to be too much effort, Cass slowly sank back down to the floor amid her skirts, and gazed up at him with a woozy grin “Hiya sexy”

“Hey you” Jay smiled back.

“And there was me thinking that you were just fucking the verger” Tara muttered, bitterly as she rifled through the dispensary drawers.

“I resent that” Lola protested. She frowned and caught Jay's eye “Have we?” she mouthed behind Tara's back.

“Not that I'm aware” Jay shook his head

Tara turned back towards them, slotting a cartridge into the gas injector she held in her hand. “So which one is it Jay? - The Chaplain or the Verger? - Or are you screwing them both?”

“Whoa, ease up Tara” Jay held up his hands in supplication while the others in his security detail sniggered behind him “What's it to you in any case?”

“I'm staggered you even have to ask” she said, hotly “I can't imagine what I ever saw in you!?”

Realisation dawned “I… We…?” Jay stopped himself before he could dig himself in any deeper. This was all getting way out of hand.

“Could you help get Sister Jones onto one of the beds please, Jay?” it was Miranda who came to his rescue, diffusing the situation by reminding everyone why they were actually there.

“Yeah, sure ” Jay smiled, grateful of something to do other than getting himself into trouble. He stepped forward and proffered a hand “C'mon Cass. Let's have you”

“Anytime” she snickered as he helped her up “Whoop” she collapsed into his arms.

“Oh, man” he wrinkled his nose “What have you been eating? Have you been sick or something?”

“I dunno” Cass looked momentarily confused “Have I?”

“Over here please” Tara said, coldly.

Jay and Miranda helped Cass over towards the bed and as soon as she was seated, Tara jammed the gas injector up against her neck and pulled the trigger, eliciting an angry shout.

“What the fuck?” Cass couldn’t quite understand why Tara had just hurt her “You should have stayed dead, you stupid, empty headed fuck. I wouldn’t...” she petered out as the drugs began taking effect.

Taking a shuddering breath, she rubbed her face with her hands before letting them drop into her lap “Shit”

“Welcome back” Miranda said, pleasantly.

“What happened?”

“Drugged punch” Jay supplied.

“I would have thought you of all people would have know better” Tara said, turning away and crossing the room to dispose of the spent cartridge.

Cass ignored her.

“Who the fuck drugs...” she fell silent at a warning look from Jay. Like the others she was still finding her feet here in this reality and there were many things that were still strange “Right” she nodded “Sorry if I upset anyone”

This made Jay smile. The Cass of old wouldn't have given a toss if she had offended anyone.

“Are you okay?” Lola asked

“Yeah. You?”

“Well, I'm down a date, but it turns out that the guy was a dick – He wouldn’t help me with you”

Jay shook his head “He still didn’t deserve to die”

“He'll just join the back of the queue for a new body with the rest of the wraiths” Tara pushed the dispensary drawer closed and turned to face the others “Now, I want everyone who isn't a doctor or a patient, out of my medical centre – Especially you security grunts”

Pandemonium erupted outside as she finished saying this and Jade burst in with a couple of others in tow, who Cass recognised from the Halloween incident.

“For pity's sake” Tara snapped as they quickly closed the door behind them “What now?”

“No time to explain” Yeldarb gasped. They had apparently been running “There's a big worm after us”


“Gerbil here upset it with a laser pointer” Jade said “It came back after us”

“And you came here!?” Tara's disbelief was almost a shriek.

“Well… It was on the way”

“No – Get out! Go and get eaten somewhere else”

Something heavy impacted on the other side of the medbay doors, buckling them in their frames...

We're all (mostly) together

Let's sort the worm out (or escape somehow) and then, assuming Jamie succeeds in stopping the engines going critical, see what we can do about averting the Dwarf's collision course with that planet.

The dead alien troopers were all armed, so there are weapons and other equipment in here if we need them.

Artemis will be out for a bit, while he finishes lobotomising this new toy, but we'll catch up with him and Jamie in a bit.

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